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Authors: Ellen Miles

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BOOK: Snowball
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“Snowball!” Lizzie called. She and Charles were playing with the puppy in the backyard after school. They were trying out the new name. The puppy came bounding over happily, his little tail sticking straight up in the air. He jumped up and put his paws against Lizzie's knee. “Oops,” she said. “Down, boy. No jumping. No, no!”

The puppy was confused. Did the girl want him to run to her when she called or not? Why was she saying that “no” word? He didn't like that word at all.

Charles clapped his hands. “Here, Snowball!” he called. When the puppy came running over, Charles
laughed. “He likes that name,” he said. “It's perfect for him! He looks like a little snowball.”

“He's going to look like a mudball soon,” said Sammy. He and his dogs had just come over from next door, so the dogs could play together in the Petersons' backyard. “All the snow we got is melting. There's not even enough for a real snowball anymore.” He sounded mad.

“At least it's warm enough to play outside,” Lizzie said. “Let's see how everybody gets along.”

Sammy's dogs ran over to sniff the little Westie pup. Rufus and Goldie seemed excited to meet a new friend.

“That's Snowball,” Lizzie told them. “Be nice! He's just a puppy.”

Rufus's tail was wagging — until the Westie jumped up and put his paws on Rufus's chest.

Snowball was so excited to meet two new friends. He thought he'd better let them know who was boss, right away.

“Snowball!” Lizzie cried. “No jumping on other dogs, either.” She laughed. “That puppy isn't afraid of anybody. Rufus is so much bigger than him, but he doesn't care.”

“Even Goldie is a lot bigger than he is — and they're about the same age!” said Charles. Now Goldie and Snowball were tumbling over and over in the muddy snow, mouthing at each other and growling little puppy play-growls.

First Goldie would be sitting on Snowball's head, then Snowball would be sitting on her head. Rufus stood a little way off, acting like the grownup older dog he was.

Once in a while, Snowball would run away from Goldie and start to dig like crazy underneath the picnic table.

“Snowball's a terrier, all right,” Lizzie said. “Terriers love to dig.”

“I think that name is going to stick,” said Charles. He thought about how happy that would make Mrs. Peabody. If only she could meet
Snowball! Maybe it would make her feel better about missing Bruno.

“I bet Mrs. Peabody would
love
to meet the new Snowball,” he said. “It's not fair that dogs aren't allowed at The Meadows.”

“But some dogs are,” said Lizzie. “When my class was there I saw a sign about therapy dogs visiting every month.”

“What's a therapy dog?” Sammy asked.

“It's a dog that goes around with its owner. They visit hospitals and nursing homes and anywhere that people need company or cheering up,” Lizzie explained. “A therapy dog has to have good manners and special training, so it knows how to behave around sick people. I read all about them in my
Dogs on Duty
book.”

Charles rolled his eyes. Lizzie was always reading about dogs. Then she explained every single fact she had learned. Still, this was interesting news. Charles had never heard about therapy dogs before.

“Rufus could be a therapy dog,” said Sammy. “He has great manners.”

“That's true,” said Lizzie. “Goldie and Snowball could probably be therapy dogs, too. Then Snowball could visit Mrs. Peabody!”

“I like that name, but Snowball's not visiting anybody, looking like that,” said Mrs. Peterson. Charles and Lizzy's mom had just come out into the yard with the Bean, and she was looking at the Westie puppy. “Didn't he used to be a
white
dog?”

Sure enough, the little Westie pup had gotten so muddy that he looked brown instead of white. Goldie was a mess, too.

“Now that you've named the puppy, maybe it's time to give him a bath,” suggested Mom.

“Tubby!” cried the Bean. He loved bathtime.

“Can we give Goldie a bath, too?” Sammy asked. “She's as muddy as Snowball.”

Mom started to shake her head. Then she shrugged. “Oh, why not? One puppy or two, how much difference could it make? It'll be a big mess
either way.” Charles knew that this was exactly the kind of thing that Mom didn't like about having a dog. But if he and Lizzie helped, maybe giving the puppies a bath could be fun.

They all went inside to get things ready. Mom ran warm water into the tub. Lizzie ran to the kitchen to get plastic cups for pouring water over the pups, and Charles got some old towels out of the rag bag. Sammy brought Rufus home, then took charge of keeping both puppies busy.

“We'll use the Bean's baby shampoo,” said Mom, once they were all in the bathroom. “It's nice and mild.” She glanced toward the door. “Let's make sure that door stays shut so the puppies don't get out.”

Goldie watched with interest as everyone hurried around. Something great was going to happen! She could tell!

Snowball watched, too. Somehow he could tell that all this fuss was about him — which was how things should be. But he wasn't totally sure that this was a good kind of fuss.

“Let's get those pups into the tub.” Mom took Goldie from Sammy's arms and gently lowered her into the water, which came up almost to her belly. Goldie didn't struggle at all. Her eyes were full of trust. She looked up at the humans, as if to say, “I'm sure you know what you're doing.”

Then Mom picked up Snowball. He was not nearly as easygoing as Goldie. He stuck out his legs, trying to keep Mom from putting him in the tub, and let out a few barks.

The Bean laughed and barked back. “Tubby!” he cried again, leaning in to swish some water around.

“Stand back, Mr. Bean,” Mom said. “Lizzie, can you hang on to the Bean? Snowball is having a hard time as it is.” Finally, she lowered Snowball
into the tub. Once he was standing in the warm water, he seemed to relax. “Great!” said Mom. “Okay, let's get scrubbing!”

The water in the tub had already turned brown from mud. It got even darker when Charles and Sammy used their cups to pour water on the puppies, wetting them all over. Then Sammy picked up the bottle of baby shampoo and tipped it over Goldie. “Whoops!” he said when he saw how quickly it came out. “Oh, well!” He began scrubbing as Charles poured some shampoo — a little more carefully — over Snowball.

Soon both dogs were all lathered up. “Now Goldie looks almost as white as Snowball!” Charles said. Goldie was covered in bubbles.

Mom let the dirty water out and ran some more. As Charles and Sammy began to rinse the squirming puppies, the phone rang. “I'll get it,” said Lizzie. “Watch the Bean, okay?” She let herself out of the bathroom, carefully closing the door. A moment later, she yelled for Mom. “Phone!”

Mrs. Peterson wiped her hands on a towel. “Keep rinsing, boys,” she said as she let herself out.

Sammy and Charles poured cup after cup of water over the puppies. It seemed to be taking forever to get all the bubbles out of their fur. Charles kept an eye on the Bean as he rinsed, but it seemed as if his little brother was busy playing with the bath toys that were lined up on the windowsill.

Then Charles turned to get some towels, and when he turned back, the Bean was in the tub — clothes and all — with the puppies. “Tubby!” yelled the Bean. “Wash doggie!” He poured a cup of water over his own head. Then he reached for Snowball.

“Oh, no,” groaned Charles.

At that moment, Snowball scrambled out of the tub. The puppy shook himself off, splattering water all over.

“Oh, no!” groaned Sammy.

“What's going on?” asked Lizzie, opening the bathroom door.

Snowball took off, dashing through the door and down the hall. Water sprayed everywhere as he ran.

“Oh, no,” groaned Lizzie.

Goldie scrambled out of the tub and took off after Snowball.

“Oh, no,” groaned Mom, when she came in to see the Bean sitting alone in the tub, merrily pouring more water over his head. Snowball dashed by the bathroom door again, leaving a trail of water as Lizzie, Charles, and Sammy chased him.

It took over an hour to catch both puppies, dry them off, get the Bean dried off, and clean up the bathroom. By the time they were done, everyone was exhausted. But when Dad got home, he said Snowball looked — and smelled — great. Maybe it was worth it.

But Snowball had other ideas. Now he knew what “bath” meant. The chasing part was fun, but
getting wet was not. Next time they tried to give him a bath, he would run and hide.

That night, Lizzie read about therapy dogs on the Internet. “Guess what?” she told Charles as they were brushing their teeth before bed. “The local therapy dog group is having a meeting next week. You can bring your dog in for a test. This could be the first step for Snowball to be a therapy dog! Then someday he could visit Mrs. Peabody.”

Charles thought that sounded great. He knew Mrs. Peabody would love Snowball as much as he did.

Over the next week, Snowball kept getting healthier — and getting into more and more trouble! He chewed up one of Lizzie's soccer shoes. He tried to dig a hole in the living room rug. He dragged his food bowl all over the kitchen. You couldn't take your eyes off him for one minute. If you did, he would find something naughty to do!

But he was learning, too. Lizzie was training him a little bit every day, and he could already sit, lie down, and come when you called him.

On Thursday night, Dad drove Lizzie, Charles, and Snowball to the recreation center, where the therapy dog group was meeting. They found their way to the gym by following the sound of barking
dogs. Snowball pulled at his leash. He wanted to be a part of whatever was happening.

“Wow, cool!” said Lizzie as they entered the gym. There were about six dogs milling around while their owners talked and watched them play. “Look, it's a Newfoundland,” Lizzie added. She pointed to a huge, shaggy black dog.

Charles thought he looked as big as Mrs. Peabody's dog, Bruno.

“And a Pomeranian,” Lizzie went on, pointing to a tiny golden dog, “and some kind of husky.”

“Hello,” said a woman in a green sweater, coming up to them. “You must be Lizzie Peterson. I'm Ms. Barrett. We spoke on the phone. Oh! And is this your dog?” She smiled at Snowball.

“That's Snowball,” Lizzie said. “And this is my brother, Charles, and my dad.”

When Snowball heard his name, his ears perked up. He ran toward Ms. Barrett and jumped up on her. “Snowball!” Lizzie cried. “No jumping!”

Ms. Barrett just laughed. “Why, he's just a puppy!” she said. “Unfortunately, dogs have to be at least a year old before they can become therapy dogs. They need basic manners and some obedience lessons, too.”

Lizzie blushed. “We're working on that.”

“Oh, I'm sure you'll do fine with him,” said Ms. Barrett. “Westies learn fast. With just a little more training, he'll be a wonderful companion — and when he's older, he'll make a great therapy dog. Anyway, you're welcome to stay and watch. We're just having a little play time before we get started with our testing.” She showed them where they could sit on the bleachers.

Charles was sad that Snowball could not become a therapy dog. Now the puppy wouldn't be able to meet Mrs. Peabody. Snowball seemed sad, too. He whimpered as he watched the other dogs play. “Poor buddy,” Charles said, “you feel left out.” He pulled a toy out of his pocket. “Here's your bone,” he said, showing the rubber chew toy to Snowball.
“Want to play with this?” Snowball stopped crying and lay at Charles's feet, gnawing at the toy.

Suddenly, the big, shaggy Newfoundland came lumbering over and stuck his big nose right between Snowball's paws. Snowball jumped up and started barking, keeping the rubber bone under one paw. The Newfoundland backed off. The large dog stared at the puppy in surprise.

Snowball thought the older dog was silly. Did he think he could get away with taking the bone, just because he was big? Snowball barked a few more times, just to let the big dog know who was boss.

“Ha!” said Lizzie. “He thought he could steal the toy from Snowball. Boy, was he wrong!”

The Newfoundland's owner came running over. “Sorry!” she said. “Bear thinks all toys belong to him.”

“That's okay,” said Mr. Peterson. “Snowball thinks the
world
belongs to him!”

“Sounds like a terrier,” said the Newfoundland's owner, laughing. “They're smart, but they can be a real handful with all that energy. They like to be in charge. Give me a big, goofy dog any day. They're much easier to deal with.”

Charles didn't like to hear that, but Lizzie was nodding.

Just then, Ms. Barrett walked to the middle of the floor and clapped her hands. “It's time to get started with our testing,” she announced. “For those who are visiting tonight, I'll explain a little about how this works. Basically, we are testing each dog for good manners, friendliness, and how well it behaves in public. A dog who can pass this type of test is known as a Canine Good Citizen, and he or she will receive one of these tags.” She held up a little yellow collar tag. “To be a therapy dog, your dog will need to pass a few more tests as well. For example, we'll need to see how your dog reacts to a person in a wheelchair or someone using a walker.”

Charles enjoyed watching the dogs go through
the test. Especially the Newfoundland. He was so calm and quiet. He walked nicely on a leash, let a stranger pet him, and didn't get scared when someone banged on a pot behind him. He also came when he was called, and let someone else hold his leash while his owner walked away. At the end, he got his Canine Good Citizen tag. Then he sailed through the therapy dog tests as well. The wheelchair didn't upset him, and he didn't seem to mind when Ms. Barrett pretended to have a huge coughing fit.

Charles saw Dad and Lizzie exchange a look. “Now,
that's
a dog,” whispered Lizzie.

“Think you'll be able to do all that one day?” Charles whispered into Snowball's ear. It was too bad it would be so long before Snowball could be a therapy dog. Especially since Charles really wanted Mrs. Peabody to meet him!

The puppy wasn't sure what the question meant, but he knew how to answer. A big lick on the boy's nose meant yes, yes, yes!

BOOK: Snowball
10.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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